Lebanon: Aoun, Mikati Hold Unfruitful Meeting amid Disagreement over Govt Lineup

President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati met at the Baabda Palace on Wednesday. (Dalati & Nohra)
President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati met at the Baabda Palace on Wednesday. (Dalati & Nohra)
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Lebanon: Aoun, Mikati Hold Unfruitful Meeting amid Disagreement over Govt Lineup

President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati met at the Baabda Palace on Wednesday. (Dalati & Nohra)
President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati met at the Baabda Palace on Wednesday. (Dalati & Nohra)

A meeting on Wednesday between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati failed to advance the talks over the formation of a new government.

Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two officials disagreed over the government lineup and the number of ministers.

The sources noted that Mikati preferred to maintain a government of 24 ministers, and replace the minister of the Displaced, Issam Sharafeddine, and Economy Minister Amin Salam, while Aoun was pushing for adding six ministers of state to the lineup, in order to form a political cover for the government, in the event of a presidential vacuum.

In remarks following the meeting, the prime minister-designate said that discussions would be continued later.

The Presidency, for its part, noted Aoun and Mikati “tackled the various details pertaining to the formation process and would continue consultations at a later time.”

While some politicians were still relying on external and internal pressures to form a government, indirect disputes and exchange of accusations continued between the political blocs supporting Mikati on the one hand, and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) headed by MP Gebran Bassil – Aoun’s son-in-law, on the other.

FPM MP Salim Aoun spoke about “some parties’ attempt to impose their conditions on the movement, while the Lebanon 24 website, which is affiliated with Mikati, launched an attack on Bassil, accusing him of obstructing the formation of the government.

In a radio interview, Aoun said that the Baabda meeting on Wednesday was the result of external and internal opinions that are pushing for a breakthrough in the ongoing efforts to form a government in order to avoid a vacuum.”

On the other hand, MP Michel Moussa, member of the Development and Liberation bloc headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, underlined the need for a new government that would handle pressing files, including the demarcation of the maritime borders and the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Concessions from all sides are required today to facilitate the formation of a government…” he said in a radio conversation.



13 Palestinians Killed in Central Gaza Strikes

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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13 Palestinians Killed in Central Gaza Strikes

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

At least 13 people were killed in three Israeli airstrikes that hit refugee camps in central Gaza overnight into Saturday, according to Palestinians health officials.

Among the dead in Nuseirat Refugee Camp and Bureij Refugee Camp were three children and one woman, according to Palestinian ambulance teams that transported the bodies to the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital.

The 13 corpses were counted by AP journalists at the hospital.

The latest casualties follow a rare moment of hope in war ravaged Gaza, after a medical teams recovered a live baby from a heavily pregnant Palestinian mother killed in an airstrike that hit her home in Nuseirat late Thursday evening.

Heavily pregnant Ola al-Kurd, 25, was killed along with six others in the blast, but was quickly rushed by emergency workers to Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza in the hope of saving the unborn child. Hours later, doctors told The Associated Press that a baby boy had been delivered.

The still-unnamed newborn is stable but has suffered from a shortage of oxygen and has been placed in an incubator, said Dr. Khalil Dajran. The baby boy's father was wounded in the same strike, but survived.

At least 38,919 Palestinians have been killed and 89,622 have been injured in the Israeli military offensive in Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Saturday.